Sound Seekers

SOUND SEEKERS: The wonder and the journey of Orienteers, plus funk and punk and Timekode

Sound Seekers by Fateema Sayani is published weekly at OttawaMagazine.com. Read Fateema Sayani’s culture column in Ottawa Magazine and follow her on Twitter @fateemasayani

Orienteers. From left: Tom Thompson, Ben Wilson, Brennan Pilkington, Laura Greenberg. Photo by Tom Thompson.

SPACE-FOLK HITS THE ATRIUM
Flitting and fleeting, wander-lusting and wondering — and wanting it all. The push and pull of contrary and complementary sentiments is where Ben Wilson is drawing from musically and lyrically. He is the pen behind the band Orienteers.

The four-piece released a self-titled hand-sewn EP in the fall and plays a live-to-air show Thursday night at Carleton University with CKCU hosts Charles Anthony and Aiden Mackean. The show takes place in the wide-open space of the university centre atrium. Here’s where we find another delicious contrast:  the music, which the band describes as space-folk, was recorded in a tight space to create a sense of inwardness.

“I wanted it to sound comfortable and compressed and sonically different from past recordings,” Wilson says. His previous band, called That’s the Spirit, was rich with reverb, a sound that seems clichéd to him now. “Instead of that expansive reverb sound, I wanted the bass and drums to be like a blanket to the withering vocals. The warm, pulsing deep sound is like a cover for the vocals, coming right up the middle.”

That recording effect led some reviewers to describe the album as soporific. Wilson is delighted with the characterization. “I’m okay with the sense of sleepiness,” he says. “That’s what we were going for.”

Wilson doesn’t want you to quite nod off to the music, but if you get to that state between awake and restful — a reflective place — you can appreciate the density and the layers of sound and ideas in the songs.

“I went through a time where I started a family, moved to the suburbs, bought a house and a car,” Wilson says. “It was about putting roots down. Then I wanted to extend branches, to get out there and explore. It’s about the feeling of travel and the joy of making the journey and the comfort in being lost.”

The idea of journey and adventure is summed up in the band name. Orienteers is the merging of two projects: Tom Thompson and Wilson’s experimental work that was produced under the name Orienteers, and Wilson’s former band called That’s the Spirit. TTS was a tongue-in-cheek nod at the corny rejoinder of another era, but was often mistaken for a Christian rock band.

They’re not a Christian rock band, still Orienteers don’t steer away from spirituality entirely. There is plenty of talk about “the journey” in songs as well.

“It’s about the comfort in knowing that things exist that are much bigger than you,” Wilson says of his songwriting impulse. “Not being able to comprehend it is part of the joy of it,” he says. “There’s a comfort in being here for the journey. It’s an idea we don’t explore very often.”

Orienteers play the Carleton University Atrium, Fourth Floor Unicentre, Thursday, January 19, 10 p.m. No cover. The show is being broadcast on CKCU 93.1FM. Free admission.

WEEKEND BOUNCE
If I were cleverer with certain technologies, I would prepare a downloadable info-graphic for both Android and iPhone platforms that plots the best routes, pre- and post-party locations and handy side-street cut-throughs to take you from party place to party place. Instead, in the spirit of low-tech that’s been arising with the one-day off-lining of Wikipedia (suddenly, it’s a movement, wot?), we’ll simply list the best events taking place this weekend in a bulleted list:

  • Timekode takes the vibe of a basement rec-room party (low-key, good tunes, all your pals) and extends it to a bar. The long-running series, featuring DJs Zattar, Memetic, and Eric Roberts, takes place the third Friday of the month. Hear classic cuts and next-wave stuff starting at 10 p.m., with projects by VJ Daisy. Friday, January 20. Eri Café, 953 Somerset St. W., $5. http://timekode.com
  • The Souljazz Orchestra plays capital city soul with touchstone sonic influence from from France and Germany, two countries where our hometown heroes are super-populaire. The Beeb’s Gilles Peterson is even a fan. The band plays new tracks from their forthcoming fifth album, expected in the fall. Saturday, January 21, Mavericks, 221 Rideau St., 9 p.m., $10. www.souljazzorchestra.com
  • Chase funk with punk on Sunday night with The Sick Sick Sicks. The band plays rockabilly revolt rock that’s danceable and angry. They’re at the Elmdale Tavern with Joel Kaiser & The Devil’s Own and openers Mystery Pill. January 22, 1084 Wellington St., W., 8:30 p.m., $8. www.elmdaletavern.com

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